Apple CEO Tim Cook has a solution for people who are annoyed by texting issues between iPhones and Androids: “Buy your mom an iPhone.”
Cook’s flippant comment, delivered at a tech conference on Wednesday, comes as Apple’s critics have griped that Apple makes texting non-iPhone devices more difficult in order to boost its own iMessage service.
A public pressure campaign launched by Android developer Google last month urged Apple to “fix texting” and blasted the company for not making technical changes that would allow read receipts, typing indicators and texting over WiFi to exist between Apple and Android devices.
But when Cook was asked about making it easier for iPhone owners to text Android users, he balked.
“I don’t hear our users asking that we put a lot of energy in on that at this point,” Cook said, according to the Verge. “I would love to convert you to an iPhone.”
The person who asked the question then responded that it was difficult for his mother to view videos sent between Androids and iPhones because they come out fuzzy, but Cook doubled down.
“Buy your mom an iPhone,” the Apple CEO responded.
Cook’s comments came just hours he revealed Apple’s new slate of iPhones, which start at $799.
Google and other Apple critics want the iPhone maker to adopt a technology called RCS, which would enable many iMessage-like features for messaging between many different kinds of devices.
“The bad experience you get when texting Android users is created by Apple,” Google said in its “fix texting” campaign. “But they can fix it by switching from SMS/MMS to RCS, the modern industry standard. And everyone’s experience would be better.”
While Cook says that adapting RCS simply isn’t a priority for iPhone users, one of Apple’s own executives has said that keeping iMessage-like features off Android phones helps sell iPhones, according to internal emails revealed last year as part of the legal showdown between Apple and Fortnite developer Epic Games.
“The #1 most difficult [reason] to leave the Apple universe app is iMessage … iMessage amounts to serious lock-in,” an unnamed Apple employee wrote in 2016, according to the emails reported by the Verge.
Apple’s president of software engineering Craig Federighi responded: “Moving iMessage to Android will hurt us more than help us, this email illustrates why.”
Epic Games alleged that Federighi’s concern was that “iMessage on Android would simply serve to remove [an] obstacle to iPhone families giving their kids Android phones.”